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My Turn - Trump-Kim Summit historic
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President Trump’s close encounter with the third Kim came off pretty much as planned in Singapore last Tuesday, for Trump and Kim that is. However, heads were shaking and brows were furrowing in other places. And they are apt to be bumfuzzled for some time, as the devils in the details get sorted out in the USA and North Korea.

Running up to the Singapore Summit was the Trump demand, “Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible, Denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. While the acronym  “CVID” made for a catchy soundbite for media and pundits, the question was and is “When will all that happen?” Previous experience with Kim Jong Un’s father, grandfather, and Kim himself, does not inspire confidence in expecting different results this time around.

That’s why we need to heed President Ronald Reagan’s sage advice: “Trust, but verify” all along the way, lest we be duped again.

Still, politics remains “the art of compromise.” And surely, that includes international politics, where war and peace may hang in the balance. The stakes are especially high in the current case of  the USA versus North Korea.

First, both nations have large, lethal means of conventional warfare. Moreover, both nations have nuclear weapons, and have threatened to use them as a last resort.

To paraphrase General of the Army and 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower, “In a nuclear war, the living will envy the dead.” As a soldier and statesman with experience in the horrors of war and the happiness of peace, his words are worth heeding more now than when he said them so strongly, so long ago.

The enormity of nuclear war was part of what guided President Eisenhower’s policy of containing Communism where possible around the world. That policy of containment, warts and all, continued to guide a succession of American presidents, Democrat and Republican, for decades to come.

In his own inimitable way, President Trump has taken a bold, historic step toward peace with North Korea. It is also a vital step back from the nuclear abyss that threatened to engulf both Koreas and beyond. So, if Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim can follow through on their respective parts of the Singapore Summit deal and co-write a new, more peaceful and productive chapter for both nations, can’t the rest of us just  “Give Peace a Chance” for a while and see what happens?

Given the awful alternative of war, I certainly hope so.

Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at